The Collins-Fauci axis against anti-lockdown scientists

Francis Collins, the first appointed National Institutes of Health director to serve more than one president, stepped down on December 19, leaving behind a record open to question.  For example, in an October 8, 2020 email, Collins told Dr. Anthony Fauci, "There needs to be a quick and devastating public takedown of its premises.  I don't see that online yet.  Is it underway?" 

Collins' target was the Great Barrington Declaration, signed by more than 900,000 people, of whom roughly 60,000 were epidemiologists and public health scientists, with the remainder being supportive citizens, to show concern about the damaging physical and mental health impact of government COVID policies.  Those policies, the signers contend, should focus on the most vulnerable while letting others continue normal lives. 

The Barrington signatories included biophysicist Mike Leavitt, professor of structural biology at Stanford and the 2013 winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry.  Stanford Medical School professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya also signed on, joined by Dr. Martin Kulldorf, professor of medicine at Harvard. 

These experts are every bit as qualified, or more so, than Collins.  Even so, the NIH boss called them "fringe epidemiologists" and wanted Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), to deliver a hit piece. 

On October 19, 2020, MedPage Today posted a piece headlined "Who Are the Scientists Behind the Great Barrington Declaration?"  As the article noted, "[a]ll three have advocated against lockdown measures since the start of the pandemic."  This assumed that lockdowns were an unalloyed benefit for the people. 

On November 2, posted "5 failings of the Great Barrington Declaration's dangerous plan for COVID-19 natural herd immunity."  In reality, their plan had not been tried and found wanting.  Government health bosses declared it defective and left it untried.

On November 6, U.S. News ran, "The Great Barrington Declaration: When Arrogance Leads to Recklessness," by Brooks Gump, who earned a Ph.D. in psychology and a Master's degree in public health.  This was a more ad hominem approach, with a backstory. 

Gump's bio reveals no Nobel Prizes, but "Gump's work has been supported by numerous NIH grants."  In effect, Gump was on Collins's payroll. 

On November 12, 2020, the techilive site posted "New institute has ties to the Great Barrington Declaration."  The newfound Brownstone Institute for Social and Economic Research was "promoting some old, controversial ideas about COVID-19 — and has strong ties to the parties involved in the Great Barrington Declaration."  This was guilt by association, both ways. 

Dr. Collins got the hit pieces he wanted.  He leaned on Dr. Fauci, a government bureaucrat since 1968.  Fauci earned a medical degree in 1966, but his bio shows no advanced degrees in molecular biology or biochemistry, both vital for the study of virology. 

Fauci has reversed himself many times but now claims, "I represent science."  He doesn't, but as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. explains in The Real Anthony Fauci, the NIAID boss has clout with journalists. 

Collins and Fauci both lied about funding dangerous gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.  Americans also know that the lockdowns Fauci and Collins recommended inflicted untold suffering and loss. 

Great Barrington signer Dr. Jay Bhattacharya contends that history "will judge those in charge of Covid policy, and it will not judge kindly."  In the meantime, some realities should be clear.

Fauci wields executive-level power without ever facing the voters.  The NIAID director should work under a non-renewable five-year contract, and the NIH boss should be shown the door after four years.  All actions in office should be investigated for any attempt to quash free speech, free association, and sound science.  

These long-overdue reforms would help to scale back white coat supremacy, a major threat to freedom and democracy in America. 

CORRECTION: This post originally said that 900,000 epidemiologists and public health scientists signed the Great Barrington Declaration. We have corrected it to reflect that 60,000 epidemiologists and public health scientists signed the Declaration, with the remaining signatures coming from concerned citizens.

Lloyd Billingsley is a policy fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California.

Image: Pixabay.

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